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USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779)

The USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779) remained on the Navy list for close to three decades in the middle of the 20th century. She was named for Lieutenant Commander Douglas Harold Fox who went down with Barton during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Second World War. Douglas H. Fox was laid down as an Allen M. Sumner-class naval vessel.

Construction

Douglas H. Fox was laid down at Seattle, Washington by the Todd Pacific Shipyards Corporation in January 1944, launched in September, and commissioned in December with Commander Ray M. Pitts in command. Carrying a crew of 336, Douglas H. Fox had a cruising speed of 36.5 knots and was armed with ten 21-inch torpedo tubes, eleven 20-millimeter anti-aircraft guns, six five-inch anti-aircraft guns, and twelve 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns.

Naval History

Douglas H. Fox began naval exercises off Hawaii in March 1945 until late April, and then served radar picket duty at Okinawa in May. The destroyer downed six kamikazes before one struck and its bomb exploded, resulting in seven casualties. Douglas H. Fox sailed to Kerama Retto and then San Francisco, California for repairs. In port from June until September, Douglas H. Fox left San Diego for the east coast, and operated locally off Norfolk, Virginia and in the Caribbean.

Douglas H. Fox served in the Mediterranean in 1947, and struck a World War II mine in September, which damaged the stern and killed three crew members. The destroyer was towed by tug to Venice, Italy and arrived at Boston in December for repairs. Douglas H. Fox returned to the Mediterranean in July 1948 on a good will cruise and then to Norfolk in December. She was placed out of commission in reserve in April 1950.

When the Korean War broke out in 1950, Douglas H. Fox was re-commissioned in November, and operated along the east coast until January 1952. Douglas H. Fox conducted patrols, bombardments, and supported minesweepers in Korea and ended her tour with a round-the-world cruise that ended in August. The destroyer then conducted midshipman training in June and July 1955, toured the Mediterranean on three more occasions, and operated north of the Artic Circle and in the Caribbean before being decommissioned and struck from the Navy list in 1973. Douglas H. Fox was transferred to Chile in January 1974, as Ministro Portales, and sunk during training exercises in November 1998.

Asbestos Risk on the USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779)

Most service men and women serving or performing repair work on Douglas H. Fox were likely exposed to asbestos-containing materials at least to some extent. Breathing or swallowing tiny, airborne asbestos fibers may eventually lead to a diagnosis of mesothelioma. Asbestos that was damaged by enemy action, as when Douglas H. Fox struck a mine, posed particular risk because it became "friable", which means individual fibers were separated from the insulation and entered the air. At that point, those working in the vicinity were at risk of breathing in the fibers which over time could cause the development of a serious cancer known as mesothelioma.

Asbestos was used as insulation for boiler plants, pumps, and engines. Some occupations had a higher risk of asbestos exposure especially those involving repair and maintenance work on that type of equipment. Asbestos was present in almost every area of Douglas H. Fox, however, because it was needed to wrap steam pipes that were installed throughout the ship.

Sources

Sources

Haze Gray & Underway. Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. DD-779.
(http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/destroy/dd779txt.htm) Retrieved 15 February 2011.

NavSource Naval History. USS Douglas H. Fox (DD-779).
(http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/779.htm) Retrieved 15 February 2011.

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